You’re spending more and more time away from the home. You keep your phone close so that you don’t miss their late night messages or calls. Your mind is constantly drifting back to it, while your loved ones complain that you’re distant and disengaged. You’re showing all of the signs that your career has now become your mistress.
We’ve all been there at one time or another; a budding business venture, the end of year financial reports due, product launch deadlines approaching, or dissertations to be submitted. I have certainly been there (and still am to some certain extent). I started a private matchmaking and relationship coaching business with a staff of one while juggling a full time job, two children under 6, and a husband who enjoyed having his wife home every night at 6:00pm. Being a matchmaker, your network is your net worth, which meant constantly meeting and connecting with new people. Nights and weekends are filled with events, client meetings, and planning, planning, and more planning.
On the one hand, starting your very own business can be exciting, exhilarating, and totally fulfilling. On the other, you can become so totally engrossed in it that you begin to marginalize the other important things in your life; spending time with family, your mental and physical health, and activities you personally enjoy. You may think you are “paying your dues” by spending so much time in work-mode, but what you’re really doing is creating an unfulfilling and lonely life.
In order to create a more balanced life while giving your career the attention it requires, I recommend these 5 steps:
Step 1: Determine your life vision and purpose. What makes you truly happy? What contributions do you want to make in the world? What kind of legacy do you want to leave? This may sound lofty and cliché, but writing out your life vision and purpose underscores what is truly important to you and whether or not your actions are truly in line with what believe you want.
Step 2: List out the major activities that align to that vision and purpose. How does your career, family, health, spirituality, finances, etc. play a part in that vision? How much does each key area play a role into the life that you see for yourself?
Step 3: Prioritize the list and assign the percentage of time you want to devote to each activity (i.e. balance). By order of importance, determine how much time each activity will need for you to realize that life vision. Don’t think about how much time each one is playing now, but how much time you WANT each to be. The frequency can be per day, per month, or per year. It is entirely up to you.
Step 4: Turn your desires into SMART goals. S.M.A.R.T. goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Developing your goals using this methodology gives you a greater chance of accomplishing them. If you have trouble turning them into SMART goals, you may need to break them into smaller, more specific goals. In addition to creating these goals, think about any obstacles that may hinder your success and what resources you have at your disposable to resolve them. For example, if you would like to spend more time with your family, but have the workload of five people, ask yourself what you can do to reduce that workload. Can you hire staff/interns? Do you need to increase training for the staff you do have? Can work be delegated?
Step 5: ACT! Putting steps 1-3 on paper is great, but means nothing if you don’t put action behind it. Take the necessary actions to put your goals into place. You don’t have to do it alone. Allow your family and friends to hold you accountable and give you the support you need to see it through. Hire a career or life coach to give you any additional support beyond what they can do.
Following these steps by no means is a magic bullet. It requires a level of commitment that will neither be easy or quick. Just like the saying goes, anything worth having is worth working for. You just have to want it bad enough.